Sunday, November 24, 2013

Compass Study Bible - An Honest Review

I was contacted and thrilled to be asked to do a review for a new Bible by Thomas Nelson Publishers - available February 2014. Compass - The Study Bible for Navigating Your Life was definitely a welcome addition to my collection of Bibles. I like to reference, cross-reference, read in several versions, and dig deeper into the Word.

The translation is called "The Voice" and was created by an impressive group of people, many names, familiar to me...from Bible Scholars, to musicians, to writers and more, the work put into this translation, was amazing. It is an easy read, comparable to The Message in ease of reading, yet, even more thorough, descriptive and keeps more to the traditional verse by verse format. 

One thing that stood out to me, and I enjoyed it thoroughly, was the screenplay format. There's no question as to who is speaking, they've done the hard work for you. They also, to make it easy to see where modernized language, styles, and/or formats were used, have utilized standard-type and italic-type. These are clearly explained in the preface, and, I would add, when choosing a new study bible, one should always read the introduction/preface....this one, is no exception. 

Also included in this study bible, is, in keeping with the "Compass" theme - The Road Map to God's Promises. When you are in need of a quick reference, you can choose from many sub-headings and be pointed directly to scripture to help you along the way. 

You'll also find a "40 Day Retreat with Jesus" reading plan. I was very intrigued by this, as it gave tips to create and maintain daily quiet time, as well as a 40 day start - I intend to begin my 2014 with this plan. There is also a 1 year reading plan, a very thorough topical guide to the study notes and scriptures, and maps w/explanations. Also, the introductions and history to each book, was a bit different than my other Bibles, different format and different writing styles, make them interesting. 

Overall, I truly enjoyed this Bible. I have used it weekly at my small group study, for my daily quiet time, and to read to my children daily. It is versatile, meeting all of those needs. Again, the screenplay format was very helpful; and the readability, amazing. 

So, I was asked to do an honest review of this Bible. And while, overall, it is amazing, and I would (will) definitely recommend it to others, there was one aspect I wasn't overly thrilled with. 

I was confused and bothered by (ultimately, because I didn't read the entire introduction, hence my advice above)...the name sometimes used to identify God. He is referred to, at times, as the "Eternal" or "Eternal One." I cannot put my finger on exactly why this bothered me so, but it did. It was, at first, as if it was making Him unreachable, which we know He isn't, He desires relationship with us. 

Upon investigation, I found the following: "The Voice translation of the divine name as the "Eternal" and "Eternal One" carries on the church's long-standing tradition of reverence for God and His name. It also attempts to translate the meaning of the name and recontextualize it for our culture." They go on to explain that He is timeless and unchanging, and it is  emphasizing the covenantal and everlasting aspects of His name. It is also explained that "Eternal One" is showing contrast to everything else in the universe, which is constantly changing. 

I'm still unsure of how I feel about this, I know that when I read it to my children, I said "God" may grow on me the longer I read it. Otherwise, however, I love this translation, format, and notes in this Bible. 

Be Blessed!

*I am grateful to Sara, from for giving me an opportunity to review this bible, and the freedom to be honest. 

**No compensation was received for this review, other than, the Compass Bible that was sent to base the review on. The views and honest opinions stated above regarding this bible are exclusively my own. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

What does Homeschool look like?

I love looking at other homeschoolers to see how they have their school set up. I get great ideas, and while we don't have a designated "school room" --- I shared in this post what our "school room" looks like...and our closet and cabinet that houses our school stuff. 

But everything looks great when it's neat, organized and not in use. I thought a glimpse into a day in progress would be nice too. The children were outside taking a "stretch your legs" break --- so I snuck in to take "real life" pictures!

Teacher's Desk --- lol - this is technically our household desk, it's where bills are paid, facebook is surfed, videos for school are viewed, and whatever else....but it's also where a lot of planning for our school days happen!

The kitchen table - where meals are served, many conversations are had, dreams discussed, and....learning takes place.

Our white board - a fairly cheap investment, we just bought this board at Home Depot...and while most days I use it, this particular day, I'm ashamed honest enough to say, I'm not perfect, and all our work isn't always written out on the board. 

And - our playroom table. Puzzles take shape here, lots of fun is had here, times, there is a lot of learning that goes on here. It, for us, seems necessary to have the second table. Two boys at the same table often means burping contests and other inappropriate noises and conversations. I love memories and laughing, but sometimes we just have to get down to business and learn. This extra table helps! :) 

So there you have it - a glimpse into where and how we accomplish things in our day. At least, this day...tomorrow might look different. I'll share again, you'll see, there are no two days the's an ever changing journey!

Be Blessed!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Heavy Loads....Need Rest....

It happens. We forget. Slowing down doesn't seem like an option. We can't. We must keep moving. Working. Then.....

We get worn down. Patience is worn thin. Tempers flare easily. The laughter seems diminished. We become disconnected. From Him. From one another. 

He promises rest. We only need to seek it. Seek Him. 

“Come to Me, all of you who work and have heavy loads. 
I will give you rest." - Matthew 11:28

It happened to us. It's been a trying year. We felt the disconnect. From one another. From rest. From Him. Then....

This day. This moment. This beauty. 

 Words were few.
Beauty was all around.

His presence was there.

Slowing. We took in His artwork.

His rest was accepted.

Thanks. Many thanks. Offered. Appreciated. 

Reminders of togetherness. 

Recognition of the important things. People. Family. Love. Him.

I want to be mindful. I want to seek Him. I want to step away from the daily grind. Seek a place of solitude, surrounded by His workmanship. 

Thank You, Father for restoration. Of patience. Of laughter. Of togetherness. For Your presence. Your love. Your grace. May I be mindful. May I not let so much time pass with busyness. May I seek you daily. And intentionally, more often, get away.

My soul, waits in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him. - Psalm 62:5

Do you get overwhelmed before you remember He promises you rest? I urge you. Do NOT wait. Find your rest. It changes everything. He changes everything.
Be Blessed!

Monday, October 28, 2013

How to....Discovering my idols...

 How to......clean your house, make your house a home, be a better mom, be an excellent wife, and of course, who could forget, how to survive the zombie apocalypse....there are "How to..." books on everything, real or not. I have, myself, been guilty of overloading myself with how to instructional books. In fact, minus the zombie apocalypse, I've owned or currently own all of the above, and probably more! And in the age of blogging, my books aren't all that I blogroll can tell you a story too!

Don't misread - I don't necessarily think there is anything wrong with reading, owning, or seeking help in making yourself better. In fact, I believe it to be admirable, especially when it involves our husband, family, and homes. But have you ever wondered at what point it is considered an idol?

Webster defines an idol as: 1.a representation or symbol of an object of worship; a false God; 2. A likeness of something; 3. An form or appearance visible but without substance; 4. a object of extreme devotion; 5. a false conception. My Bible dictionary defines idol as ANYTHING that takes the place of God.

So, I deduct that an idol, can be anything thing, plan, idea, etc. that becomes higher than worshiping our One True God, including, but not limited to, seeking to constantly be the perfect wife, mom, homemaker, etc. Now, before you stop reading, know this, I am a full-time wife, mom and homemaker. I also seek better communication with my husband, an excellent marriage, patience with my children, ideas on parenting and discipline, tips for keeping an organized, yet welcoming home. I'm just like you, very likely. 

In seeking scripture on this...we can see it was important enough to Him to make it a commandment:
 “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. - Exodus 20:4-5

The fact is, God hasn't changed. He knew the Israelites were choosing to worship other things, and down through the centuries, we've all created idols. It has been (is) new inventions, such as, televisions, phones; better technology, such as, the NEWEST iphone, best computer; our cars, houses, clothes, bodies, etc. It doesn't, however, have to be something you can touch. It CAN and IS often, our time. And, in the end of verse 5, we can see that what we choose, WILL be passed generations beyond us. That's sobering!

Time.....He is the Author of that. We are to give Him the first and best of ALL He blesses us with. This includes our time. Again, I noticed how much time (and admittedly, money) I had invested in reading about "how to" be better at this or that. What if I sought Him first each day (giving Him the first and best of my time), chose areas an area I wanted to improve (only one. He IS a big God. I, however, am HUMAN), and sought Him first, followed with a book (that I work through rather than skipping to here and there), and applied what I learned. See, the problem is we want it ALL, NOW!

 And as I've been seeking to discover and rid myself of my idols, I've realized, many things have compounded to get me where I am. But ultimately, it IS idolatry. I highlighted the definitions where I felt my "how to's" fit in. And, no, I'm not literally bowing to these books, but in my mind, I'm constantly thinking "which one next?" or "I need to get this organized." or "I need to be more consistent with parenting." Often...these thoughts one right after another. Sometimes, even as I study my Bible, or as I'm journaling. 

Again, I say, there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve yourself or learning new ways to parent, make your home, renew your marriage, or other obvious Proverb 31 traits. I think for me it became an idol, when I aligned myself with the "false conception" that ALL of these things are mine to be made "perfect." This is a journey, and just one of my discoveries along the way. I share, because I sought Him to reveal to me what keeps me from being in constant communion with Him. 

I challenge you to seek Him as well. Have "how to's" become an idol in your life? Have you stopped to ask Him what He wants you to work to improve? As I have done so, I've realized that it's not everything. And, little by little, things are falling into place. Perfection? Hardly. Just a peace from Him, that I am in His will, and things fall into much better. Join me?

Be Blessed!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Overloaded....with Him?!?

Are you ever overloaded with info? I know it happens to all of us. In parenting, put the child to sleep on it's side, now the back, now the stomach....How to get your child to sleep through the night in (fill in the number) quick steps.....And then of course, we have the wonderful internet. It's full of information, some we know, some we don't, but always just a click away! I'm curious, though, do you ever get overloaded with good stuff? You know, like from the Word of God? from ministry? 

We just finished a series at church called "Normal." In the midst of this, my husband and I started a series of devotions on marriage (we aren't finished, so I don't feel that I can link to recommend just yet, but I might when we are done), our small group at church is doing a deeper study connected with the Normal series, and during the Normal series, our church held their annual Marriage and Parenting Summit. All the while, one of my favorite women's ministries...Women Living Well began an every Thursday night webcast for women. Since it's only online for 24 hours, I have faithfully made sure I watch each one.

 "Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Inscribe them on the doorposts and gates of your cities so that you’ll live a long time, and your children with you, on the soil that God promised to give your ancestors for as long as there is a sky over the Earth."(Deuteronomy 11:18-21 --- The Message)

I can say with certainty. I am in overload! It is (and will continue, I'm sure) taking me a little time to completely sort out all I've learned, and then to apply it to my daily life, as He speaks to me. I have felt the presence of the Father on each on of these things going on....and feel that He is guiding me to be a better wife, mom, and woman through it all. It's just one of those times where I need to read, reread, and maybe notes, to pray over the Word, and to seek His best for me and my family. 

Just as with anything else, I was feeling overwhelmed. And then it hit me. What an amazing way to be overwhelmed!!!! I am overloaded with and overwhelmed by the Word of God, and by His messengers, who are giving us the Word for application. I was actually, this morning, moved to tears as I begin to think about all I've learned and how that even though I'll go back through my notes, application has already begun. The prayers I've prayed, as I've learned, they're fruitful. He is definitely alive and working in my family. I see it in my husband, my kids, my marriage, and the overall atmosphere of my home!

This also made me realize, too much of some things, isn't so good. But too much of the Word, and of His solid teachings....there's no such thing! I am in Jesus overload, and LOVE IT! The passage in Deuteronomy......for me, so far as I know in my life, thus far....THIS is what it feels like! What are you overloaded by? I encourage you to Deuteronomy 11:18 it....make it Him! You won't be disappointed. 

Be Blessed!

Disclaimer: In no way do I think I have it figured out. I am a flawed, very flawed, sinner saved by grace, and in no way do I have some crazy notion that I am perfect. I simply desire to honor Christ in my daily life. This is simply me, sharing my thoughts of what He's doing in my life.